Today, the celebration of Easter is part of the pop culture with advertising campaigns and sprinkling for money in Hungary. However, 2-300 years ago, people lived and died together with Jesus Christ these days, devoting themselves totally to his suffering, and therefore, they could really experience the miracle of the resurrection of the Lord in the deepest of their heart and soul. Thus, they celebrated very differently than today, especially in the countryside.
The Hungarian word for Easter is “Húsvét” (“taking meat”), which originates from the fact that the first day of Easter is the closure of the 40 days of fast. A preparation period precedes Easter called Lent (Nagyböjt), which commemorates Jesus’s 40-day-long fast during his journey in the desert. Without the shadow of a doubt, Easter is the most important holiday in the Christian world since it commemorates the resurrection of Jesus Christ, his victory over death which brings the real good news for the modern man:
there is life even after death.
During the Holy Week, Hungarians went to church to relive the final days of Jesus Christ together with the whole community, with the help of the local priest and by attending the masses. Thus, the experience did not only belong to the individual but also to their family and the whole community.
On Good Friday, which is the mourning of how Jesus was sentenced to die on the cross, in the Roman Catholic parts of the country, the whole community took part in the Stations of the Cross, making a
spiritual pilgrimage through contemplation of the Passion of Christ.
Regarding how deep people lived in the final hours of the Lord those days, a Hungarian ethnographer said that his mother even fainted at one of the stations.
Holy Saturday started at midnight when the whole community of the village went to the fields where they searched for crosses, said prayers and sang holy songs near each and every one of them, which lasted until daybreak, already symbolising light’s victory over darkness.
Afterwards, the procession
arrived at the “grave” of Jesus Christ
where they buried a cross symbolising the body of the Lord on Good Friday. However, by then, the cross was no longer in the grave meaning that Jesus defeated death. Finally, they went back to the local church where they told the people praying and singing that Jesus really resurrected. In the past, there were christenings at the evening mass this day.
Easter Sunday was the start of the celebrations when Roman Catholic Hungarian families took food (scone, eggs, ham and wine) for a blessing to the morning mass. It was believed that such blessings would bring them a wealthy harvest. One blessed egg was eaten by two people so that if they got lost, they would remember who they had eaten the egg with. HERE we wrote about what Hungarians traditionally eat at Easter.
Easter Monday was the day of ultimate celebrations. Even though today, sprinkling itself as a tradition (“locsolkodás”) is fading away, when it was fashionable a couple of decades ago, even little boys sprinkled little girls. However, in the past, only adolescents went sprinkling, and the man who received the most decorated egg from a girl
knew that she would accept his courting.
Boys sprinkled with water symbolising purgation while the red eggs represented life after death. Even though Romans killed Jesus Christ (red = blood), he resurrected as life can emerge from a seemingly dead stone-like object, the egg. HERE we wrote about how to prepare an Easter egg.
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